Mishcon de Reya, the leading legal firm, has warned that the rules and regulations around Right to Rent could evolve to become even more complex for landlords and letting agents after Brexit.
This warning comes despite the recent court case at the High Court, which deemed that Right to Rent breached the human rights of the tenants which fall under the measure.
Now, Fran Rance and Ros Monk, from Mishcon de Reya, have published a briefing note focusing on Right to Rent, and warning that Brexit will likely only further increase the responsibilities of landlords in the future. This is because landlords may have to allow for the possibility of renting to European nationals, in addition to foreign nationals, when analysing a potential tenant’s right to rent.
Landlords and letting agents should consider implementing property management software for their businesses in order to make compliance with Right to Rent easier. By using an Inventorybase login, letting agents are able to complete and view inventories, and the likelihood of landlord and tenant disputes is reduced drastically.
Right to Rent has been embroiled in controversy since its introduction by Theresa May, at the time when she held the position of Home Secretary. Under the measures, which apply across England, landlords and agents must ask their tenants for original documents which prove their right to live in the UK.
This could possibly involve requesting the tenant’s visa or passport, and in some cases, both. The landlord or agent must check the expiry date, photograph and name contained on the documents, as well as make copies of these documents and record the time and date that they made the check. Should the tenant be in possession of a time-limited visa, then the landlord or agent is required to make more checks at future dates in order to ensure that the tenant continues to have the right to reside in the UK.
Agents or landlords who fail to conduct the appropriate checks on tenants could be liable for criminal or civil penalties. Following the widespread criticism of the scheme by civil liberty groups and trade bodies within the lettings industry, a ruling by the High Court was made earlier this year, which judged that the entire scheme had breached Human Rights, according to the European Convention. This ruling was due to the fact that Right to Rent led to the discrimination of non-UK nationals and British ethnic minorities.
The judge in the case, Judge Martin Spencer, concluded that Right to Rent had caused landlords and letting agents to discriminate where they otherwise would not have, and described the discrimination by agents and landlords on these grounds as being wholly predictable and logical. This is due primarily to the potential penalties and sanctions which letting agents and landlords face if they get things wrong.
The Home Office was later granted permission to appeal the judgement, and plans to challenge this ruling at the High Court. Until this is resolved, landlords and letting agents must carry on conducting Right to Rent checks. There has also been considerable criticism by trade bodies concerning the lack of guidance around how the scheme will be managed when the UK leaves the European Union.
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